Biographical Note on Thomas Jordan

I was born in 1958 in Sweden, and spent much of my childhood in Uddevalla, a quite small town on the Swedish West Coast. My mother was a journalist, my father an artist. Both of them came from families with a working-class background. My mother's father was a worker who accidentally became the owner of a small toy shop (and I was his first grandchild :-)), and my father's father was carpenter in a steel mill. The most unusual aspect of my childhood was that my mother was the money-earner most of the time, while my father shared his time between taking care of me and my younger brother and painting, drawing, printing, carving and sculpturing.

As a two-year-old one of my favourite pastimes was to order my toy cars in lines according to various principles: by colour, by material, by size, by appeal, etc. This urge to systematize still plagues me, though the objects of my efforts have changed over time. Between 10 and 14 I wanted to become an experimental chemist.

1968 (note the year) we moved to Stockholm, where my mother got a job as the editor-in-chief of the journal of the teachers' trade union. She was also an active Social Democrat, and later spent one period as a member of the Swedish Parlament. When I was 14, the world started to call for attention. I had a great drive to gain a better understanding of how it comes that the world looks like it does (which I now believe is a psychological dynamic going back to early childhood). I joined a local group of anti-Vietnam-war activists. In the three years I was a member of this leftist group I learnt a lot about international politics, and of course also was socialized into a specific worldview, emphasizing values such as international solidarity, equality, and compassion for the marginalized. As in many political groups dominated by young people, the perspective was very dualistic and adversarial, blaming the evil American capitalists and idealizing the socialist movement. I steered clear of getting involved in the leftist party politics, but international political issues remains a central concern for me to this day.

In my teens I also spent a lot of time in the woods, looking for mushrooms. At 14 I started a band with some of my friends, me playing bass. We listened mostly to hard rock, like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep.

At 16 I decided that I didn't want to spend another two years being spoon-fed with ready-made pieces of information I was supposed to store for later reproduction in tests. I had read about anti- authoritarian schools, like A.S. Neill's Summerhill, and the liberation pedagogics of Paulo Freire. I also started to read psychology books, e.g. Alice Miller and Karen Horney. I left school and started working in a kindergarten. Some years later I attended a Folk High School, a form of boarding school mainly for adults. I spent one year on a course about developing countries, including a three-month study visit in Tanzania. This course was a rich learning experience, but perhaps not in the way the teachers intended. In the radical 70's, students demanded direct democracy, which meant we spent tremendous amounts of time in unending meetings trying to find consensus over sometimes quite unim portant matters.

After some wrangling with various arguments, I made my military service in 1979/80. I was then ripe to make a major effort to understand the world :-). The leftist environment I was formed by insisted that the economic system is the driving force of societal development. I joined a 3,5 year educational programme for economists at the Gothenburg University, involving economics, economic geography, business administration, statistics and languages. I complemented by courses in International Relations and Political Science. After four years I found (surprise, surprise) that I still didn't understand the world. I joined the post-graduate programme at the Department of Social and Economic Geography, which offered an unusual freedom of inquiry and a supervisor I had confidence in. I wanted to study the nature of international specialization of economic activities. However, parallell to this, I continued to read a lot of psychological literature.

In 1982, during a short visit to Tanzania, I met my present wife, Barbara, who is German. In 1984 our son Kaspar was born, and in 1986 we had another child, Katarina. My interest in psychology intensified, I came across Stanislaw Grof and Ken Wilber. Grof's book 'Realms of the Human Unconscious' opened many doors for me, and Wilber's 'Up from Eden' meant a decisive turning-point in the development of my fundamental worldview. Wilber offered a much more encompassing vision of the evolutionary dynamics of the society than the left. He also provided an alternative utopic vision, focussed on consciousness development rather than on social reforms. I participated for two years in group psychotherapy based on body-oriented psychodrama, but also incorporating Grof's holotropic breathwork. This was one of the most enriching experiences I have had. I learned a lot about myself and about human beings, and I grew a lot. One of the most important lessons was to create a space for chaos in my life, to learn to live without certitude, without ready-made explanations.

By this time, I started to feel I had reached the limits of how far an economic perspective can contribute to an understanding of human affairs. I would have liked to shift to psychology. However, I had a family to support, and had already spent a lot of time with university courses. I decided to finish my doctoral dissertation on international specialization in the pump industry. From 1985 and onwards I lectured a lot in various university courses, mainly economic geography and international relations. The latter course was given in the Department of Peace and Development Studies. I spent a lot of time there, and got to know some of the staff well.

In 1988 I spent one year at home, just taking care of my children. I allowed myself to turn inwards. I didn't open my books on economics, but meditated, dreamed, learned how to interpret a Tarot spread and read psychology (a lot of Jungians, but also other vintages) and astrology (I'm a Gemini with moon in Cancer and ascendant in Pisces).

I defended my doctoral dissertation 'Flows of pumps. Structure and change in the international division of labour' in 1992. After this I made a pragmatical decision, mainly motivated by the need to earn money, to do a follow-up study. It was finished in 1995, a 200p. study of the historical evolution of international specialization in the Swedish centrifugal pump industry 1870 to 1990. It was fun, believe me or not.

Fate rewarded me for my perseverance, and I got a six-year post as a Research Fellow in 1994, which means that 75% of my time I can do any kind of research I find worthwhile. I decided to leave further career considerations aside, and really do what my heart wanted: learn the consciousness evolution perspective from the bottom up, in order to be able to do research in this field. So I have read and read and read: Wilber, Neumann, Kohlberg, Arieti, Loevinger, Selman, Habermas, Kegan, Heron, Wade, and many others. I also started a course in Conflict Resolution at the Gothenburg University with some colleagues, and consequently spent a lot of time becoming familiar with the relevant literature.

In December 1994 we relocated to Germany, to the home region of my wife near Cologne. I am employed as a Research Fellow of the Department of Human and Economic Geography in Gothenburg, Sweden, and travel regularly to and forth in order to teach a number of undergraduate and graduate courses.

Now I feel I have a good theoretical platform, and I am preparing for diving into empirical research. I was succesful in getting research grants on both of my major research project proposals. One is an interview-based study on the variability in how people make meaning of their own workplace conflicts. The other deals with Swedish defense and security policies from a consciousness development perspective. Both projects started in January 1999. Having thus secured another two years of research, my greatest concern is the difficulties in finding scholars with similar interests and approaches, willing to collaborate and discuss tricky theoretical, methodological and empirical problems. I have been only moderately successful so far.

I have on a small scale been a conflict facilitator in a number of school conflicts, and I'm slowly learning the Rosen method, a mild form of psychotherapy mainly working on muscular tensions in the body (see link in the link section).

I like modern African and Latin American music (juju, soukouss, soca, samba), opera (Mozart, Gluck), elizabetan lute music (Dowland), Swedish songs (Bellman, Vreeswijk) and a lot more. I don't eat meat, but seafood, and I like cooking, preferably Indian style.

Thomas Jordan
Floraweg 48
D-42929 Wermelskirchen

Tel. +49-2196 82179
E-mail: <>